It’s easy to pick on the cable company. Most of them are easy targets for derision. The services are overpriced and the customer service often ends up the butt of jokes.
I have been catching up on the Homeland Season 2 replay on Showtime, recording episodes using a Season Pass on TiVo. For whatever reason, episode eleven eluded the long arms of my HDR while we were away in Sonoma. My challenge? How to legally get the missing episode.
The first option would normally be to use the on demand functionality provided through TWC. Unfortunately, because I use a TiVo box with a cable card, the on demand functionality is not available.
HBO has a great app for the iPad that lets you view pretty much any episode of any of their series, going back for years. You can even view it via AirPlay and your Apple TV. Too bad Homeland is on Showtime. Fortunately, Showtime also has an iPad app with similar on demand playback. Unfortunately it only works with certain cable providers — and TWC is not one of them.
Fortunately, TWC has it’s own iPad app called TWC TV which provides on demand functionality, including Showtime series (if you’re a subscriber, which I am). This was promising. I searched for Homeland, found Season 2, clicked on Episode 11, and… FAIL! It would not play. Check episode 10. That works. Episode 12? That also works. Episode 11 is the only episode that won’t play.
Calling TWC customer service led to the typical, unfulfilling canned responses. “Are you able to play other episodes?” Yes. “Have you tried the on-demand feature on your TV” No, I cannot because I use a cable card and a TiVo, not a cable box. “Have you tried reinstalling the TWC TV app?” Yes, with the same results. Finally they were able to confirm with another tech who had an iPad that they, too, could not play Homeland, Season 2, Episode 11. The answer? They would have to re-load the episode on their on-demand server, and to keep trying in a few days. I would not get any notification when (or if) it were resolved.
Two weeks later. Episode 11 will not play. In fact, it’s disappeared from the episode list entirely.
This time, a tweet was in order.
— Jeff Hester (@jeffhester) April 18, 2013
Next, TWC is calling me, to help sort out the problem Again, we repeat the dance. “Are you able to play other episodes?” Finally, I get them to realize (again) that the problem is with that particular episode on their server. And again, the solution? Wait a few days and try again.
Frustrated, I finally decide to bring the cable box out of the closet, dust it off and hook it up. Had to dig out a couple coaxial cables and a splitter, and add to the tangle of cables. Finally, it’s all hooked up. Fire up the cable box, press the “on demand” button and… FAIL. Ugh.
One more phone call to TWC support, and they send a signal to the box. Finally it’s working (though still not on the TWC TV app).
The Lesson Learned
There’s a few lessons in this experience. First, it was interesting to note that TWC is actively monitoring Twitter. It’s a smart move for them, even though they weren’t able to actually solve the problem.
…Remember, these days, when you’re talking to one person, you’re talking to a thousand. -Zoe Barnes, House of Cards
From a consumer perspective, I got more intelligent response from a tweet than from a phone call to their toll-free customer service line. Of course I made a point of mentioning the TWC twitter account, but it got action–and more intelligent action–much faster. Social networks empower consumers.
Which leads to the more important lesson. Having responsive customer service is only meaningful if you can actually fix the problem. In this case, TWC failed. Granted, it may be fixed eventually, but they weren’t equipped to resolve the issue even after several weeks. It’s a problem of bureaucracy, and a symptom of broken processes in the organization. The real problem for TWC in this case is not one of sloppy customer service, but an inability to fix what’s broken with their own internal processes.
A Broader Application
All of this begs the question: What’s broken in your company? In your organization? In your life or relationships? If the experience sucks, something must change. Fixing the problem involves change. Embrace the change.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
For what it’s worth, I was finally able to watch Homeland, Season 2, Episode 11 last night. And yes, it was worth it.
Photo credit: Nickwheeleroz on Flickr